[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Front St.City Hall Section - Clovis Free PressBack St.
Vol. 17  No. 21 Final Edition
Clovis Free Press

May 14, 2000
True Cost of Instant Greenbelt

May soon exceed $1,000,000 Annually!
By Howard Hobbs, Ph.D.
Valley Press Media Network
Related Story: New Clovis Greenbelt      

 CLOVIS -- Monday night during the City Council's public meeting, Mayor Armstrong publicly thanked fellow Council Members and community volunteers for their tree planting activity last Saturday along the Old Town Trail. That was the locale for the new urban forest on the Clovis horizon. He noted there were no reporters from the Clovis Independent covering the Council meeting.
     Armstrong also offered stinging criticism for members of the press, however, as he excoriated both the Clovis Independent and the Fresno Bee for "weak coverage" of the historic event. He said it was newsworthy that 4,800 trees were planted by area residents and City employees along several miles of the Clovis Old Town Trail and its Cross Town Trail intersect near Woodward Park and River Park Center in Fresno.
     A Clovis Free Press Newspaper reporter was present at the Council meeting and the next morning attempted to get the Mayor's comments. It was 7:20 a.m. when the Free Press reporter approached Armstrong, showed him Press credentials and asked for comments on Cotton Wood Park expansion. Armstrong turned and walked away without comment.
     Free Press Newspaper editors had done their research even if the Mayor of Clovis had nothing to say. Urban forestry research revealed there are nearly a million trees being protected in the Urban & Community Forestry projects from rapid urbanization and subdivision development in California. The Free Press also tapped into a large database of economics research on the cost-benefit of such urban forests as Mayor Armstrong and a host of volunteers planted along the corridors of the Clovis Old Town urban perimeter.
     Urban and community forestry is a relatively new activity. The California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection is now partnering with local communities like Tree People for volunteer urban forestry services. But many recent cost-benefit studies have illuminated to true nature of the major fiscal obligation associated with maintaining them after the planting ceremony is over and the news media have left town.
     The City of Modesto, Calif., manages 90,000 trees along its streets and in its parks. Officials in its Operations and Maintenance Dept. told Free Press reporters the public's investment in stewardship of that municipal urban forest greatly benefits the community. With a population roughly three times that of Clovis, Modesto recognizes the economic impact of its urban forest. The city's growth is greatly influenced by environmental constraints, and competition with other cities in the region in terms of quality of life issues.
     Research shows what Mayor Armstrong and the Clovis City Council already know -- that healthy City trees can mitigate impacts of development on air-quality. As in Clovis, Modesto's street, park, and trail trees are associated with a sense of place and foster psychological well-being. Increased community attractiveness and out-of-doors recreational opportunities make the City a more enjoyable place to work and to play. So, Clovis' new urban forest adds to a setting which helps attract new high-tech businesses and new residents. Improving the facilities at the Cottonwood Park along Dry Creek Trail will further expand the size and obligation to maintain the new Clovis urban forest. On Tuesday morning nearly 400 supporters made around $6,000 in cash donations in support of more trees and more Cottonwood Park.
     Yet, this is an era of dwindling public funds and rising expenditures. Because of this, there is even a greater need for public scrutiny of local government spending tax funds, especially on a long term commitment like planting and management of the new Clovis urban forest, portions of which have been garnered through a combination of public charitable activities which place in motion a virtual municipal engine of never-ending public expense.
     This trend and others now anticipated attract the attention of the Free Press and become the focus of this newspaper's editorial calendar in order to focus on in-depth analysis that is likely to lead to more fully informed judgments on the true economic costs and benefits of actions taken by the public body.

     [ Editor's Note: The courageous Clovis Tribune -- The Official newspaper of the City of Clovis & North Fresno County was founded by H.E. Armstrong & Sons, March 14, 1905, and was superseded by the Clovis Independent, now owned and operated by McClatchy and the Fresno Bee. The City of Modesto found that the true cost to taxpayers of the City maintaining its 91,179 urban forest last year was $2,623,384. The City Council, however, then announced that the accrued benefits of the urban forest to the community were well worth the expense to taxpayers. Anyway, since the urban forest had become a popular amenity, and was apparently one of the inducements to new business to relocate to Modesto, the City Council will keep on spending $2,000,000 every year to keep up its appearance. In the past year, Modesto City Council approved $267,000 for planting 2000 new trees, $90,000 for pruning, watering and basin repairs, $13,000 for Plant Nursery operations, $343,000 for removal of 1,300 dying and dead trees, $5,000 for storm cleanup costs, $85,000 for sidewalk repairs from tree root damage, $68,000 for tree pest management, $106,426 for tree leaf raking and disposal, $26,000 property claims from falling trees/branches sewer line disturbance, $42,000 trip/fall personal injury claims, $68,000 injury claims expenses. City of Modesto fiscal detail -- Journal of Arboriculture 25(5):235-248. 1999.]

Letter to the Editor

©2000 Clovis Free Press. All rights reserved.

Front Page | Calendar | Datebook | Real Estate | Opinion | Search | E-mail | City Cam | Schools
Public Affairs | Trails | Conservancy | Wish List | Free Classifieds! | Masthead | Advertise | Marketplace

News Stand

Valley Press | Bulldog News | California Star | Clovis Free Press | Daily Republican
Fresno Republican | Tollhouse - Shaver | Tower2000 News | Yosemite News

Aluisi Real Estate | Archer's Music | Auto Accessories | Auto House | PC Paramedics
Presentations Inc.
| Reagan Library | Sierra Portal | Web Portal

Clovis Free Press

"Of the people ~ By the people ~ For the People" - A. Lincoln

Copyright 1962, 2004 by Clovis Free Press - ClovisNews.com
Contact: Editor@ClovisNews.com
All rights reserved. Disclaim
Accessibility Guidelines

[an error occurred while processing this directive]